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Tri-Shark Classic Triathlon hosts 30th anniversary meet at Comlara Park

A diverse crowd gathered by a lake, enjoying the scenery and each other's company
Tri-Shark Classic Triathlon
The 30th annual Tri-Shark Classic Triathlon will be held Saturday at Comlara Park near Hudson.

This Saturday marks a momentous occasion for the multisport community of Illinois: the 30th anniversary of the Tri-Shark Classic Triathlon.

The event, known for its challenging swim, bike, and run segments, stands as the largest multisport event south of Chicago. Nearly 1,200 athletes and volunteers are expected to gather at Comlara Park near Hudson, with Evergreen Lake setting the stage for the swimming portion of the race.

An athlete showcasing a water bottle and a medal.
Eric Stock
Tri-Shark Triathlon owner Kevin McCarthy holds a medal marking the 30th anniversary of the race and a souvenir water bottle. McCarthy said each medal includes shark's teeth.

Kevin McCarthy, who has co-owned and operated the triathlon since 2016, is brimming with excitement for this year's race. The planning for the 30th anniversary celebration is evident in the unique awards that await the participants.

“For three years we’ve been planning for this 30th anniversary and the awards. Literally, we’ve been picking these shark’s teeth up off the beach, my wife and I, and she actually glued them on all of the awards”, McCarthy said.

As a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event, the Tri-Shark Triathlon adheres to a strict set of rules to ensure fair competition and safety for all. McCarthy said among these rules are requirements for appropriate clothing, adherence to race safety instructions, and a prohibition on drafting. This rule is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the race, he said, as it emphasizes the individual effort and skill of each cyclist, rather than the advantage gained from riding in the slipstream of a competitor.

The Tri-Shark Triathlon is not only a competitive event, but also supports various youth groups that sponsor outdoor activities, including Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and 4-H.

With a significant portion of the proceeds going back into these organizations, the event fosters a sense of community and encourages a love for outdoor activities, McCarthy said.

“Part of when we purchased the event back in 2016 was to provide high-quality experiences that athletes love while we get to help our community partners and that is both sponsors and youth organizations. All the groups that we’re helping like 4-H, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts are all young, outdoor, active nonprofit groups, so the opportunity to connect them to something outdoor and active is a good opportunity," he said.

McCarthy noted 45% of this year's registrations are coming from first-time participants, suggesting the event will continue to grow.

“That is really key, that our local business community sees the value in this and steps up to support, and our local athletes step up to put it on,” McCarthy said.

For more information on participating or volunteering, individuals are encouraged to visit the Tri-Shark website.

Gaige Owens is a student reporting intern at WGLT. He joined the station in 2024.